How much of Calvin is left in Calvin

The indefinite suspension the PBA slapped on Calvin Abueva seems to be nearing its end as the Games and Amusements Board gave its green light to have his professional license reinstated.

But the question now is what version of Abueva will come to the fore when he finally takes the floor in his PBA return considering he has been inactive for 16 months – the longest suspension in league history, not counting Rudy Distrito's lifetime ban in 1995.

Abueva is unlike anyone in the league in terms of personality and brand of play. He is brash and he talks trash, but all these are part of a persona he lives out, whether naturally or manufactured.

He is a throwback to the old days of the PBA when a different level of physicality was not only tolerated but was part for the course.

But to classify Abueva as a mere enforcer speaks of a lack of appreciation for how good of a basketball player he truly is.

Abueva is not your typical roughhouser whose only real value is to hurt opposing players. He can score by the buckets and defend the main man of the other squad.

The intangibles he brings – his hustle, his intensity, his grit – are a coach's dream. Similar to Beau Belga, he has proven there is more to him than just the occasional dirty tricks he dishes out. 

How much will rust and the long layoff affect Abueva's game? Without a doubt, he has always been one of the best conditioned players in the league. It is safe to assume that he has kept himself in shape during the entire time he was sidelined.

But being in good physical shape is not the same as being in game shape. Except for a few "ligang labas" that he was chronicled to have played in, Abueva has not played in any high level basketball game in almost a year and a half. 

At 32 years old, getting into game shape for Abueva will no longer be just a simple case of muscle memory, instructing his body to go back to his old ways.

Jimwell Torion received the second-longest suspension in PBA history at 8 months for his clothesline on Jimmy Alapag, which led to a broken nose.

Torion's suspension was reduced to 4 months but by the time he played again, he was only a shell of himself at 34 years old. He found himself out of the PBA the next season.

How fast, or how slow, will Abueva get his rhythm and play like he used to? Will he be able to resurrect the star player he was before?

Another point of curiosity is how he will react when he is roughed up. Abueva has found himself many times on the receiving end of retaliatory hits from opposing players who react harshly to his aggressive ways.

This time, it is not unlikely that players will try to goad him by hurting him because they know he cannot, or will not, retaliate. The mental games that Abueva was known for will possibly be used against him to get into his head and just throw him off-balance.

It is obviously in Abueva's best interest not to respond to any provocation, but will he be able to show restraint in all instances?

What makes Abueva a special player is his desire and ability to go all out from the opening tip-off until the final buzzer. He willingly puts his body on the line to help his team gain an extra possession.

The passion he exudes when he is on the court is unbridled and it also is infectious and has often fueled his teams to success.

One has to wonder whether the experience of getting suspended for a very long time and the threat of getting a more severe penalty if he commits another transgression rein in Abueva and prevent him from playing with the same boundless energy that he was used to. 

Abueva has always been a game-changer, sometimes to the detriment of his team, but for the most part, for the betterment of his side.

It is not only the Phoenix ballclub which wants to see him back in action. A lot of fans have been clamoring for Abueva to be allowed to play again.

At his best behavior, Abueva was one of the most impactful players in the league. Will we see a mellow, more restrained, and less energetic version of Abueva? Or is the Beast simply on hibernation, waiting and ready to be summoned and unleashed when he is finally given the green light to suit up? –